A major Saudi government-owned broadcaster aired a sketch mocking President Joe Biden as US-Saudi relations plunge to a new low.
In the comedy sketch on MBC’s “Studio 22” show, which aired Monday, Biden’s character appeared sleepy and forgetful, wandering offstage before being tugged back by a likeness of Vice President Kamala Harris.
Biden is then seen confusing Spain and Africa, forgetting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s name, and mistakenly calling Harris his “first lady.” The sketch then ends with the Harris character dragging the sleeping Biden character off stage.
The Saudi government owns a majority stake in MBC and it is rare to see the leaders of major Saudi partners, such as Biden, mocked in this way.
Under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto leader who is also known as MBS, the Saudi entertainment sector has relaxed substantially, allowing more room for things like obscene comedy and music festivals, which have traditionally rankled conservative Saudis.
The Biden skit is also notable given it comes at a time when relations between Saudi Arabia and the US are at rock bottom.
Though the US and Saudi Arabia became close partners following the discovery of oil in the Gulf in the 1950s and worked together to combat extremism following the September 11, 2001, attacks, many in the US political and business communities blacklisted Saudi Arabia after the 2018 murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
But speaking to The Atlantic, MBS showed little remorse, saying Khashoggi wasn’t important enough for him to go out of his way to have killed anyway.
He said that if killing journalists critical of the government were “the way we did things” in Saudi Arabia, “Khashoggi would not even be among the top 1,000 people on the list.”